BY ABDULWAHAB ABDULAH
President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Joseph Daudu, SAN, has said allegations of bribery against lawmakers was a source of worry to Nigerians, including lawyers.
Daudu who spoke against the backdrop of recent allegation of “bribery for clearance” levelled against members of the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee on oil subsidy, attributed what is happening at the National Assembly to poor leadership in the country.
Also, Chairman, Section on Business Law, SBL, Mr. Gbenga Oyebode in his address said Nigerian lawyers need to adapt themselves to the changing pattern of legal practice both in Nigeria and beyond.
The NBA president, spoke at the opening of the sixth annual conference of the Section on Business Law, SBL in Lagos, bemoaned the frequency of bribery allegations against lawmakers and described it as a sign of “chickens coming home to roost.”
The theme of the on-going conference at the Expo Centre of Eko Hotels and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos is: “A Globalised Legal Regime: Prospects and Challenges”.
He said rather than face their primary duty of lawmaking, the legislators now prefer oversight or other review functions to the detriment of the political process and the polity itself.
He also challenged lawyers to be more proactive in their legal practice by ensuring “radical and far reaching changes in line with international best practices.”
Daudu said: “Our efforts at the bar to make legal practice more relevant and productive through various measures i.e. through the amendment of the Legal Practitioners Act, which we have submitted in the form of Bills to the National Assembly since March 2012 (but technically since 2006) together with the Justice Sector Reform Bills such as new Legal Education Act and Legal Services Act Bill, which propose radical and far reaching changes in line with international best practices as to how we practice law in Nigeria have been left unattended to by the legislature.
“This is not surprising as now we know why such key legislative work is left unattended to. The legislature obviously prefers oversight or other review functions as opposed to their primary function of lawmaking. Nigerians now see to the eternal embarrassment of the whole nation, the chickens coming home to roost.”
The Governor of Lagos, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, had urged lawyers to participate actively in the political process, so as to ensure good governance, while declaring the conference open.
Represented by the State Solicitor General and Permanent secretary, Ministry of Justice, Lawal Pedro (SAN), Fashola stated that “most Nigerians look up to lawyers for direction, which informed the reason why legal practitioners should get involved in governance.”
The conference keynote speaker, Simon Davies, a Managing Partner with Linklaters LLP, one of the largest law firms in the world on his part, advised his Nigerian counterparts to be energetic and also imbibe the spirit of enterprise should they desire not to be left behind in the latest trends in legal practice globally.
Daudu, was joined at the occasion by Lagos Chief Judge, Justice Ayotunde Philips, former Minister of Petroleum, Odein Ajumogobia (SAN), Okey Wali (SAN), Chairman of SBL, Gbenga Oyebode and his predecessor, George Etomi among others.